Fokke van den Berg, global marketing manager brewing, DSM Food Specialties, chatted with Ben Bouckley from BeverageDaily.com at Brau Beviale in Nuremberg last Thursday.
Van den Berg cited Mintel data showing that 10% of food and beverage launches excluding beer in 2013 were gluten free, compared with only 1% of beer launches, added to which ‘gluten free’ is the fifth most searched on Google.
All of which goes to show, he says, that there is a clear market opportunity for gluten-free beer.
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It fits in a market where overall beer consumption is declining and brewers want to attract new consumer groups, notably women, he says, while the gluten-free diet has gained celebrity glamor due to converts including Novak Djokovic and Miley Cyrus.
DSM’s Brewer’s Clarex ingredient was initially developed as a stabilizer to eliminate the need for cold stabilization, but in 2012 the company also began marketing the enzyme as a means to create gluten-free beer, since the active ingredient breaks down the gluten in malted barley.
“Craft breweries have taken the lead in creating specialty beers. This boom is reflected by decreasing consumption of regular lager beer. And gluten-free fits with this strategy – we’ve had a lot of requests from craft breweries." (Fokke van den Berg, global marketing manager brewing, DSM Food Specialties)
DSM is keen to market the ingredient to craft brewers in North America – and at the Brau the company told us it is still hopeful that a rule change will allow US brewers to label barley-based beers as ‘gluten free’, rather than with the current caveat, ‘processed to remove gluten’.
Van den Berg denies that the segment – renowned for its purist attitude towards beer production – has any doubts about the ingredient. One early adopter is Portland Oregon brand Omission Beer (see picture on the left, the brand also sells a lager and an IPA).
“Craft breweries have taken the lead in creating specialty beers. This boom is reflected by decreasing consumption of regular lager beer. And gluten-free fits with this strategy – we’ve had a lot of requests from craft breweries,” he says.
Often these are breweries that perhaps have a personal interest to create a gluten-free beer – perhaps they suffer themselves or have a family member with an allergy…Yes, they’re purists, but they’re passionate about beer and try different things, produce real specialty beers,” Van den Berg adds.